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hawkeyecollins94
member (5)member
  
11/26/2023 11:09AM  
Hey folks! I’m looking for advice as I plan my first BWCA Lake Trout trip, mainly regarding which lake(s) are ideal to target. TIA for any and all advice.

A little context: I’ve been visiting the Gunflint Trail every summer since I was a girl, but my family’s not one for change, so I’ve rarely ventured beyond the campground at Trail’s End. I’ve caught countless walleye, pike, and bass on Sag and Gunflint, but never a laker. My cousins and I would like to change that :)

Aside from day trips, I have no extensive portaging experience, so I need to be realistic regarding ability level. I know conditions during my ideal timeframe (early spring, shortly after ice-out, to target lakers when they’re shallow) can be very unpredictable. I’m familiar with the area, though, and as an avid backpacker, I don’t mind hauling heavy gear long distances or camping in below-average campsites.

So: I’m looking for suggestions regarding the ideal lakes / route for my group. I’ve heard great things about Paulson, Mountain, and (maybe) Daniels? One idea is basecamp at Seagull and do day-hikes to Paulson and/or surrounding lakes. Another is to do the portage from Clearwater into Mountain and fish the latter lake. We’ll have about four days.

Much gratitude for your input!
 
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lundojam
distinguished member(2730)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
11/26/2023 08:15PM  
I would try to get to Knife Lake. You can get a tow to American Point of Sag to save time, then paddle the Ottertrack into Knife. You can get there via the Ely side as well.
 
11/27/2023 07:03AM  
hawkeyecollins94: "...I know conditions during my ideal timeframe (early spring, shortly after ice-out, to target lakers when they’re shallow) can be very unpredictable. "

Weather conditions are often unpredictable, but targeting Lakers in the spring has some basic basics such as shallow cold water shorelines and moving water.

What will be your technique? Trolling, casting, jigging, or ? That could be more important to success than your choice of lake trout lake.

Ps. Welcome to the board.
 
11/27/2023 08:34AM  
I would go the last week of May or first week of June. As mentioned, Knife lake is a good one. I troll a husky jerk 10 about 100' back which puts you 10-15' deep depending on line diameter used. LT can be anywhere so just troll (although over deeper water is best). You may go miles without a hit then catch 5 in a 1 mile stretch. I use purpledescent or fire tiger.
 
bruleman
distinguished member (190)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
11/27/2023 09:07AM  
Both Sag and Seagull have good populations of Lake Trout. Looks to me like your approach to fishing them is more the problem than where you are fishing at.
 
11/27/2023 09:40AM  
Very important is time of year. Big lakes get tough for lake trout after June. If seeking lake trout plan around June 1 or so.
Gunflint area is a good choice.
 
hawkeyecollins94
member (5)member
  
12/02/2023 04:05PM  
bruleman: "Both Sag and Seagull have good populations of Lake Trout. Looks to me like your approach to fishing them is more the problem than where you are fishing at. "


Nice fish! We typically go in July/August and target walleye, so we've just never tried to catch trout. Good to know there's lakers in Sag and Seagull.
 
hawkeyecollins94
member (5)member
  
12/02/2023 04:05PM  
bobbernumber3: "
hawkeyecollins94: "...I know conditions during my ideal timeframe (early spring, shortly after ice-out, to target lakers when they’re shallow) can be very unpredictable...
"



Weather conditions are often unpredictable, but targeting Lakers in the spring has some basic basics such as shallow cold water shorelines and moving water.


What will be your technique? Trolling, casting, jigging, or ? That could be more important to success than your choice of lake trout lake.

Ps. Welcome to the board."


Thanks for the welcome! I've heard you can't go wrong casting little cleos or dardevle spoons. Trolling with Rapalas, too (Tail Dancers!). We'll probably do a combination of the two. I love the idea of catching trout from camp/the shoreline, and might try to set up some sort of rig from shore. Sounds like there are plenty of options!
 
12/05/2023 11:59PM  
if you want to stay close to an Entry point , it's hard to beat seagull lake , if you venture in farther hard to beat knife lake , if you choose seagull no need to venture to paulson unless you just want to explore another lake, paulson has a good # of lakers but all run about 15" , another very good choice is Jasper (just past seagull through Alpine into Jasper , again not large in size(a little bigger than paulson) but very good for #'s
Shore fishing = which i enjoy a lot especially since i'm 63 now ;) bobbers are fine but if not calm winds a lot of recasting my favorite is a dead sucker on a slip sinker set up(run the single hook right up and through the skull of the sucker minnow. , very simple and effective (pic included) , if not early spring up to june the lake trout will be deeper for successful shore fishing depending on the depth around your campsite. i prefer using a baby split shot as you only have to tie 1 knot not 3 ;) & use 1/2 up to 2oz slip sinkers as it's the wind that will blow your line towards shore and it's usually the sinker that gets hung up not the hook.
 
thegildedgopher
distinguished member(1644)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/06/2023 09:55AM  
Great post by Shock there. I can confirm that Sag Lakers love those dead sucker minnows as well. Every year I say I am going to try some of the cut plugs used by salmon fishermen, with cut sucker meat. I feel like that would be great for lake trout.
 
12/06/2023 03:15PM  
hawkeyecollins94: "... I love the idea of catching trout from camp/the shoreline, and might try to set up some sort of rig from shore...."


Five or six casts from a spot on shore pretty well covers that spot. If a trout is there, you'll get a strike. Then it's time to go trolling and find where they are. Or cast from your canoe.

Shore fishing with live bait often ends up with a swallowed hook and a dead fish, so be ready for that situation.
 
12/06/2023 06:35PM  
Thanks GG , i havent even try to look for ciscoes in 20 years and i never did like them for the fact they turn to mush so fast , like smelt , yes both more oily but a sucker minnow can stay on your hook for more than 1 fish.
GG your cut bait comment , made me think of a year(opener) when the suckers were right up in eddy's falls slurpping down the walleye spawn , took like a 7pounder back to camp , the texans that were with us thought we were going to use the whole fish , but yes , we just cut chunks off of it , put it on a hook and with the skin on those large ones that may stay on your hook all day if not the next , but yes excellent success with fresh cut bait.
Pic= stuffed with bugs but couldnt resist the sucker ;)
 
gravelroad
distinguished member(991)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
12/07/2023 08:04PM  
hawkeyecollins94:Another is to do the portage from Clearwater into Mountain and fish the latter lake. We’ll have about four days.

Much gratitude for your input!
"


I grew up making that trip with my father and my uncle on an annual basis over the traditional Memorial Day weekend. I haven't been to Mountain in a long time, but the laker fishing continues to get good reports. Hitting them when they're in shallow water and hungry at the end of May is more fun than waiting for midsummer and hunting for those deep holes they retreat to.
 
12/21/2023 12:48PM  
Typically - anytime in May will find them still shallow. Fishing opener and maybe second weekend on a late ice year, start with the north side of the lake (south facing) water warms a little quicker, evening bite is best this time of year.

Late may or early ice out, move to the south side of the lake, lake warms a little slower and still draws the lakers shallow. Morning bite is best this time of year.

Paulsen, formerly know as JAP is a great lake to catch your first lake trout. It's choke full of them and they will all be nice eater size fish. The lake seems to lake the necessary nutrients or something for the fish to take that next step to get bigger. They're all nice 2...maybe 3 lb fish and there are lots of them.

Troll or cast spoons, or rapala's. I like Little Cleos, kastmasters, crocodile spoons. Blue and silver or orange and gold are my go to colors. Good Luck and have a great trip!
 
ILuvLakers
member (19)member
  
12/22/2023 05:20PM  
Can't say enough about Gillis lake. Gorgeous lake, takes some getting to but full of trout. Crooked Lake (the small one) just south of Gillis also has some good trout, fewer than Gillis but bigger - the ones I caught there last spring were all > 20". Caught some good pike in Crooked too. A fun loop to enter Missing Link EP, exit through Brant, or vice versa (although I think the long portage from Missing LInk to Tuscarora is slightly easier/more downhill going from Missing Link to Tuscarora.)
 
12/23/2023 09:19PM  
I would agree - Missing Link to Tuscarora is quite a bit easier than Tuscarora to Missing Link.
 
01/12/2024 03:45PM  
I did a loop a while back where we entered on Brant and exited from Missing Link. Never again on the Brant side. Too many portages with short paddles.

It might be different now, due to the forest recovering after the fire, but when I went, the underbrush was so thick and caught on the fishing poles constantly. You could also hardly see the trail in some spots. There was also a lot of steep hills to climb.
 
01/12/2024 05:16PM  
A1t2o: "I did a loop a while back where we entered on Brant and exited from Missing Link. Never again on the Brant side. Too many portages with short paddles.


It might be different now, due to the forest recovering after the fire, but when I went, the underbrush was so thick and caught on the fishing poles constantly. You could also hardly see the trail in some spots. There was also a lot of steep hills to climb. "


You're right about that area and alot of the routes in that area being what I call puddle jumpers. Alot of quick in and outs.
 
Dreamer
distinguished member (156)distinguished memberdistinguished memberdistinguished member
  
03/12/2024 12:34AM  
I've not done a ton of laker fishing. But my top 3 lakes for trout are Mountain, West Pike, and Little Trout. Mountain was one of my favorite lakes. Gorgeous. Lakers were everywhere shallow flipping spoons right from shore in May.
 
Leaflicker69
member (17)member
  
03/28/2024 01:38AM  
LT'S are pretty easy to catch. Find the lakes bait fish and trill the depth. Not steady action but if you keep at it you'll always catch them.
 
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